Winter and Snow Tires vs All-Season Tires
It’s that time of year when drivers in the northeast start to ask themselves: should I invest in a dedicated set of winter tires or take my chances with my regular all-season tires? The answer to that question depends on the type of weather you are likely to encounter and the road conditions where you plan to drive. Of course, covering all your bases is a good idea since the weather can be unpredictable. Winter storm events have the potential to become more frequent and severe than in years past. Before getting into the details, let’s take a closer look at winter tires, snow tires and all-season tires.
What Are Snow Tires/Winter Tires
Winter tires – also called snow tires – are a specialty tire that’s designed specifically for driving across snow and ice. They have larger tread and are made with a different type of rubber that can handle colder temperatures.
What Are All-Season Tires
All-season tires, also referred to as all-weather tires, are designed to perform well in a variety of environments and are considered to be highly versatile. At Jack Williams Tire, our goal is to ensure you and your vehicle are safe and prepared to take on whatever messy winter weather is headed your way. It should come as no surprise that it all starts with quality tires and dependable traction.
Performance of Winter Tires vs All-Season Tires in the Snow
The big question is how performance compares between winter tires vs all-season tires in the snow. You want to be able to navigate through snow and slush but handling and braking are extremely important as well. With snow, traction and grip are the biggest considerations. Better traction leads to better acceleration, cornering and braking in the snow. The issue is that rubber on snow doesn’t create as much traction as snow-on-snow. To improve traction, winter tires have deeper treads. Snow is compacted into the treads and channeled away as the tire rotates. The rubber of snow tires vs all-season tires is another factor. The softer rubber compounds used to make snow tires won’t stiffen as much in cold temperatures. The added flexibility provides better grip on snowy roads. Driving with all-season tires in the snow can be risky. All-season tires are built to be general-purpose and provide fantastic year-round performance so long as the climate is moderate. They can handle light winter weather but aren’t really made to handle the snow like winter tires. When it comes to all-weather tires vs snow tires, the snow tires are the superior option in snowy conditions. They provide:
- BETTER BRAKING: Winter and snow tires provide improved braking when driving on snow. In tests of all-season tires vs winter tires, winter tires stopped 66% better.
- BETTER CONTROL: Snow tires provide increased confidence and control while driving.
- BETTER HANDLING: Treads in snow and winter tires are shaped to handle driving in severe winter conditions from snow and ice to sleet and slush.
- BETTER TRACTION: Thicker tread in winter and snow tires reduce snow buildup and are designed with biting edges for overall better traction.
All-Season vs Winter Tires: Performance on Ice
All drivers dread the thought of slick, icy asphalt known as black ice. There’s nothing worse than sliding across the road with little to no control, just hoping for the car to stop safely. In a head-to-head competition between all-season tires vs snow tires while driving on icy roads, snow tires are designed to be driven over roads that may have some icy areas. Especially when turning on an icy patch, winter tires are designed to grip and keep you safe. All-season tires are made to handle a lot of road conditions, but icy roads aren’t one of them. The firm rubber of all-season tires will skate across the ice providing very little grip. The softer rubber compounds of winter tires grip better. The added silica also makes winter tires more flexible on slick roads. Here again, the tread also plays a role. Winter tires have a tread design that soaks up and expels more water than all-season tires, helping to reduce skid. The tread also has more biting edges to grip icy roads. Consumer Reports went the extra mile to quantify how much better winter tires are at handling icy roads compared to all-season tires. In their tests, winter tires had a stopping distance of 30 feet whereas the all-season tires had a stopping distance of 36 feet. That six feet can make the difference in whether or not you’re involved in an accident.
All Wheel Drive (AWD) Isn’t a Substitute for Snow Tires
If you have a vehicle with all-wheel drive, you may be tempted to bypass snow tires when winter rolls into town. At the beginning of winter when the weather is milder, AWD can be a benefit to a certain degree, but it has a few shortcomings. Popular Mechanics decided to determine whether AWD made a significant difference in the snow with and without winter tires. Their tests yielded clear results. While AWD typically helps with tire control, snowy conditions can negate the effect. The rubber and tread of the tire need to be able to drive through the snow first and foremost. The need for winter tires is most notable while cornering and braking. Popular Mechanics discovered winter tires, not the AWD, improve cornering and braking by 5-20%. Even with AWD, another test from Tire Rack found that winter tires accelerated 33% faster than all-season tires in the snow.
Winter Tires Aren’t Just for Snow and Ice
There’s a common misconception that winter tires are only for driving in the snow. Sure, they’re designed to improve performance when snow and ice are on the road, but they can handle other situations as well. Both the unique rubber compound and tread design make winter tires ideal in the rain, slush and mud or when it’s cold and dry.
Winter Tire Rubber Benefits
Winter tires are known for having softer rubber compounds, which helps in cold weather of any kind.
Winter Tire Tread Benefits
Because there are more cuts in the tread, known as sipes, water on the road is squeegeed away. There are also micro pumps that help when it rains. These small holes in the tread suck water up like a plunger and spit it back out with each rotation.
What to Know If You’re Thinking About Getting Winter Tires
If you expect to drive through snow or on icy roads, investing in winter tires is the safest bet. But you’ll need to take a few things into consideration before making a purchase.
Buy all four tires
A complete set of winter tires is needed to avoid skidding. Changing out just the front tires will cause the rear to lose traction and vice versa. If you have a rear wheel drive vehicle and decide to put the new tires only on the rear, you want to be able to steer, don’t you? If the front tires skid and lose traction you won’t be able to steer the vehicle.
Consider mounting winter tires on spare wheels
This will make it easier to swap winter tires out in the spring without mounting and dismounting. Jack Williams’ mobile tire service powered by JACK, offers a convenient tire storage option.
Winter tires wear faster
Handling extreme road conditions causes a lot of wear. Removing winter tires at the start of spring can help improve longevity so that they last through several winters. Most winter tires can last 35,000 miles or five years. Check the tread regularly and always replace winter tires once the tread begins to wear and they begin to There are dozens of winter tires and each one has its advantages. Jack Williams offer high quality snow tires from several brands including Nexen, Nokian, Bridgestone, Continental Tire, Firestone, Mastercraft and General Tire. While Jack Williams’ inventory of tires contains nothing but quality products, some of the best tires in our winter tire lineup include:
- Bridgestone Blizzak DM-V2
- Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9
- Nokian WR G4 SUV
- Continental VikingContact 7
- Goodyear UltraGrip WRT
The experts at Jack Williams Tire can help you determine which winter tire is the best option based on your vehicle and the local driving conditions. And with all 36 Jack Williams Tire locations offering complete car care service – including tires, brakes, alignments, oil changes and more, now is the perfect time to stop by our nearest service center.